Bitter and Salt

Touya finds out a few things about what Yue likes, despite Yue’s complete cluelessness. Drama with Pre-Romance, I-3

Pairing(s): Touya/Yukito/Yue

September

“Kero-chan!!”

Touya never regretted spending his weekends at home; it was nice to see family so often, his first year living away. But it sure got loud sometimes. He shook his head as Keroberos galloped out of the kitchen with Sakura hot on his heels, cheerfully swiping the last bits of frosting off his muzzle.

It was a good thing Tou-san had hidden the second cake well back in the pantry.

There went both his tasters, though. He eyed Yue, still standing by the window, aloof from his counterpart’s dessert-stealing tricks. Of course. Normally he’d ask for Yukito back, when it came to food, but Yue hadn’t been out much, lately. Besides, Touya had gotten suspicious of why, exactly, Yue never ate or drank, and this seemed like a good chance to test it.

“Yue,” he said casually, holding out a spoonful of apple pie filling. “Taste this and tell me if it’s good.”

Yue blinked at him. “I don’t eat,” he said, as if he thought Touya might have forgotten.

“I’ve noticed. There’s nothing to stop you from it, if Keroberos is any indication, though. You taste things, right?” Yue’s nose wrinkled just slightly and Touya nodded to himself. He’d bet he was right. “So taste this.”

Yue stared at him for a long moment before, with manifest unwillingness, taking the spoon. He maneuvered it into his mouth as if trying not to actually touch it and bit down with a stoic expression.

When the expression changed it was mostly in his eyes: a slight widening, a small relaxation of tight brows. Touya made a satisfied little hm.

“It’s… good,” Yue said, finally.

“You don’t like sweets,” Touya stated. He started spooning his mostly unsweetened filling into the crust. “I’ll remember that.”

Yue was back to looking at him with bafflement. “Why?”

Touya rolled his eyes. Sometimes he really wondered about Yue. “So we can have things you’ll like, too,” he explained with pointed patience.

“Oh.” Yue said it so softly that Touya looked over at him and caught the moment of confusion and hesitance on his face. And then it was gone and Yue was cool and withdrawn again.

Touya snorted. Yue was stuck with the family, now; he might as well get used to it.

November

Sakura flopped down on Touya’s couch like she was still ten years old. “Why do magic creatures keep coming to me? I have homework!”

“You’re not the only one,” Touya noted, though he was sneakingly pleased that his sister and her retinue had stopped at his place to rest on her way home instead of just dropping Yue off. He had brotherly duties to keep up with, of course, so he didn’t say that; instead he smirked at her. “The monsters all just want to visit their relative, probably.”

Sakura revived instantly to scowl at him. Touya smirked wider and set a cup of tea down in front of her, careful to keep his feet out of reach. She sniffed and wrapped her hands around it.

“They’re drawn to strong magic,” Li said, matter of fact enough that Touya suspected he’d had to deal with this too. He sipped his tea quietly, sitting close by Sakura. Hovering, really.

Touya grudgingly supposed he approved of that.

He pushed the sugar dish toward Keroberos, who had already reverted to small, probably to get the most out of his sweets. Touya snorted and set a cup of black coffee down in front of Yue.

Yue looked up at him inquiringly.

“Coffee. Try it.” Touya settled on the floor beside their table, pouring his own tea.

Yue picked up the cup and then paused. Quiet as their exchange had been, it had drawn the wide-eyed attention of the rest of the room. Touya didn’t look back at Yue, but he reached out swiftly to rest two fingers under Yue’s cup, stopping him from setting it back down.

“Touya…” Yue’s voice was barely audible, and he was trying not to look anyone in the eye. A faint flush snuck over his cheeks.

“Try it,” Touya repeated calmly, in direct contrast to the dark look he was giving the rest of the room. There was a sudden clatter of spoons and saucers from the other three.

Yue kept his eyes fixed on his cup as he tasted the coffee, delicately. Touya, watching for it from the corner of his eye, caught Yue’s slow breath out and the faint relaxation of his shoulders, and smiled.

A momentary flicker of a smile answered him before Yue recalled himself and sobered again.

Yue finished his coffee quietly before wrapping his wings around himself. The brightness parted to show Yukito, who stretched and smiled. “Are we all done?”

“Yes! Thank you, Yukito-san!” Sakura chattered to Yuki, filling him in on the afternoon while Touya poured tea into the extra cup he’d brought out and handed it over.

His sister’s boyfriend was watching him thoughtfully.

Two days later a package of books on Chinese medicine and health arrived, full of charts, and lists, and diagrams of elements and tastes and heat versus cold. Touya hated it when That Boy was helpful; it made it a lot harder to stay properly mad at him for stealing Sakura.

He sighed and settled down on the couch to read about the elemental alignment of the Moon, and the food associated with it.

February

Touya tossed a package of salted seaweed snacks into the shopping basket. Yuki’s brows rose. “I didn’t know you liked those, To-ya.”

“I don’t, much. But I think Yue will.”

“Ah.” Yuki nodded, satisfied. After a moment though, he cocked his head at Touya. “How do you figure out what he’ll like? We don’t seem to like the same things.”

Touya’s mouth quirked. “Well, at first it was just giving him stuff that wasn’t sweet. But those books the Brat sent me…” He frowned, running his finger down the row of noodle packages. “They don’t have your favorite brand. Is Shirayuki okay?”

“Sure.”

“It seems that Chinese medicine has a lot in common with Chinese magic systems,” Touya said quietly. “Yue and that bath sponge both seem to like tastes that match their alignment.” He frowned some more. “Which is… Well, maybe it’s all right. Maybe magic creatures don’t need to be balanced the way humans do.” He looked at Yuki, frown softening because Yuki was good at doing that to him, even when he was worried. “But you and Yue are the same; and you like eating all kinds of things, the way a human would. So I think it might be better for him, too.”

Yuki chuckled softly, with that inward look that meant he was paying attention to his other self. “I think he’s going to tell you to mind your own business, next time he sees you.”

Touya snorted. As if that was going to stop him; besides, Yuki’s health might be at stake, here, too. You never knew. “Anyway,” he tossed a packet of Thai curry powder into their basket, “next time we make curry, we should see if he likes spicy food.”

Yuki’s hand lingered on Touya’s arm for a moment. “Thank you. For worrying about both of us.”

Touya took a moment before they came out of the aisle to ruffle Yuki’s hair. “Always.”

For a moment Yuki had a very odd expression on his face. And then he smiled. “Yes,” he agreed softly, definitely. “Always.”

Touya declined to comment on that and made for the case of fish and meat instead. He did sometimes wonder whether a day would come when the things Yuki and Yue communicated to each other would become his business. He kind of hoped so.

But not today.

End